Piano prodigy Henry Roeland Byrd – better known as Professor Longhair, or “Fess” for short – was one of New Orleans’ most revered pianists of all time.
Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana in 1918, he learned to play the piano with an instrument that was missing several keys, which influenced his distinctive playing style. His career took off in the 1950s, faltered the following decade and then miraculously received widespread recognition in the years that followed.
Fess was invited to perform at the second-ever New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1971, and influenced countless artists like Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint and Dr. John.
– Margaret Willard, The 100 Companies